League Two Form Guide
Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
Sheffield Utd 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NEITHER team made any changes at half time and the first 10 minutes were a cracker. The game was evenly poised, with Town driving forward, helter-skelter passionate football, sheer adrenalin and fury forcing the Blades back. A taste of their own medicine and they didna like it.
There was the tantalising glimpse of hope, there, just over there, a faint red light floating southwards over the top of the Osmond Stand and towards Lincoln, and the second division. Oster almost broke through after Pouton robbed and roamed down the left. Oster tried to turn near the penalty spot, but managed to thigh the ball back to the goalkeeper, Kenny, who has no neck and the air of a roasting chicken about him. Less Donald where's yer troosers, than Kenny, where's your giblets? Town broke quickly down the right, with Hughes bundling forward, losing possession about 35 yards out. Then, with Pouton, he harried the defender into losing possession. Hughes tapped the ball forward into a big gap and Pouton skipped goalwards, was tackled on the left edge of their penalty area, and the ball squirmed out sideway. Oster beat a defender, then another, and was surrounded by a quartet of defenders, about 10 yards out, just to the right of centre. Weirdly, he decided to chip the goalkeeper, and succeeded in chipping it delicately into the goalkeeper's stomach. Perhaps he too was mesmerised by the neckless stopper.
McDermott was a brief danger, exchanging passes on the edge of the area and momentarily alone behind the defence. Unfortunately the linesman, who hitherto had been resolute in his reluctance to raise his little yellow duster, vigorously fluttered. Wait, there's more. Roared on by the home crowd, distant memories came flittering across the mind, would passion be enough? A corner on the right, won after incessant pressure and some search and destroy reconnaissance by Mansaram, saw Santos soar above his former friends, on the edge of the 6 yards box, and head down, but a yard wide at the far post.
And then the beginning of the end of the final act. A United attack was repulsed, with Pouton clearing. Play continued down the right and, I am afraid I have no idea what happened next. I was doing an impression of the Town defence; I was ball watching. The referee stopped play, gave United a free kick 25 yards out right in the centre and booked Pouton. It certainly confused the Pontoon for, if whatever Pouton had done was serious enough to warrant a free kick, why only a yellow card? Whatever, Pouton stayed, moaned and watched as Brown curled the free kick over the rudimentary privet hedge, alleged by the optimists to be a defensive wall, and Coyne produced a rather excellent save to parry the ball away from the top left hand corner.
A minute or so later, the end was well and truly upon us, not just for this game, but the season too. Pouton had the ball out near the touchline, about 10 yards inside the Sheffield half. Pouton turned inside and the ball broke loose and he did a stretching lunging tackle as Kozluk sprinted across and just managed to get to the ball before the heartbeat of the midfield. Kozluk wellied the ball upfield, spun off Pouton's boot and the referee immediately brought out a red card, much to the annoyance of all wearing black and white spectacles. It was certainly not a violent red card tackle, arguably (and only arguably) a yellow card, as, from the Pontoon, it seemed to be two blokes tackling hard, and one got there first. Of course, had it been the other way round, we would have bayed for blood.
That was it, over half an hour left and it was merely a case of how many they wanted to score. For a couple of minutes after the sending off Town players were so charged up they pressed Sheffield back, but it didn't last long. McDermott surged into the left side of the Blade penalty area and, after a 1-2 with Oster, sliced a shot well wide of the goal from about 10 yards out. Now for the list of missed chances at the other end. Forgive me if I leave any out; for great swathes of time my shoes held a strange fascination and I just couldn't take my eyes off them. It was that or watch the football.
Kabba turned Ford on the touchline, on their left, burst forward and pulled a cross back into the middle of the area. Windass, at the near post, dummied a midfielder, raced in and shot first time. The ball cannoned off Santos and back to Windass. The Hull hefferlump, on the corner of the 6 yards box, crossed immediately and Santos, in the middle of the goal, three yards out, sliced the ball out for a corner. Around this time, about 65 minutes, Thompson replaced one of the Town players, someone who had previously passed unnoticed through the crowded penalty areas. Livingstone! Off, at last, he looked stunned at being taken off, though he should take note of the cheers that greeted his removal. Poor Livvo, deluding himself to the last. His immobility was only matched by his invisibility.
Wisely, Groves thought that Town needed a 10th player on the pitch. Back to the action, you blinked and missed something. They broke down the middle, they passed to Kabba, who shouldered the ball past Ford and was free, alone, and set on stroking his own massive ego. As Coyne came off his line, Kabba attempted to lift the ball with the outside of his boot. Coyne blocked with his chest. Kabba wangled his way free on the right of the Town area, beat a couple of defenders and whacked the ball into the side netting. Someone, somewhere, at sometime deep inside the Town area was free behind the defence and Coyne managed to block with his chest near the foot of the left hand post.
And finally Kabba was taken off, to muted boos and thoughts of what might have been. He should have "Grimsby Made Me" tattooed across his backside. The game degenerated into a kick fest as Town players took their frustrations out on any passing Sheffield United player (now there's a phrase never used before). Or possibly their frustrations at the referee who was increasingly stern with Town, but at least he didn't give them penalties when Kabba and Ndlovu fell inside the Town area under pressure from huge and enormous Georges.
Campbell's last contribution was to watch Sheffield United players play piggy in the middle with him and Gallimore, before releasing Brown down the touchline. Galli and Campbell looked at each other, shrugged, and prepared to resume their positions for the resulting kick off. Brown virtually walked along the bye-line into the area, kept on walking and rolled a cross through the 6 yards box to Windass, two yards out at the far post. The ball disappeared, a loud noise emanated from the gleeful, but surprisingly moderate, Yorkists and, hello, here it was in Coyne's arms by the near post. If they want to miss open goals that's fine by me. Campbell was immediately replaced by Groves, although the public execution of the left back would have been more popular. The case for Darren Barnard grows with every minute he isn't on the pitch. Groves had a shot, you know, from 25 yards, which the goalkeeper pushed aside at his near post. And Oster too, when Hughes knocked a corner from the Town right straight to him inside the area. Oster hit a first time shot low to the near post. But low straight to the roasting chicken, who is quite pale, so he is unlikely to be a cornfed goalkeeper.
With about five minutes left the inevitable (and deserved) fourth arrived, just as the Town stands were emptying. Peschisolido, distracting defenders with the most ridiculously long shorts in football history (aren't ankle length skirts banned?), dribbled around in circles on the left side of the Town area. He ran out of the area, then passed up to Brown, about 25 yards out. Groves shuffled the midfield maestro across the face of the area to Hughes, who ran in the opposite direction to BROWN, who increased his pace and whacked a left foot drive from the right edge of the "D" across Coyne and into the top left hand corner. Unstoppable, just like his team. There was a final Town attack, when Santos hit a long pass down the left hand touchline to Mansaram, who turned his marker and whacked a low cross through the 6 yards box. Dangerous, but as it was Town no one was within five yards of the ball. There was more danger of an own goal. Three minutes of added time, no further punishment meted out by referee or Sheffield.
Sometimes you just have to sit there and take it on the chin. Our collective jaws are very sore, for Town just weren't up to the required standard. We witnessed the finest performance by anyone at Blundell Park this season - power, pace, organisation, wit, skill, absolutely everything you'd want from your team, except it wasn't our team that provided it. Santos, and to a lesser extent McDermott, Oster and Coyne can stand tall, the rest tried, but weren't good enough. The crowd didn't boo the players (a couple of die hards excepted), for they recognised reality. The Town players tried, can't fault them there, but their weaknesses were ruthlessly exposed. Warnock may have no eyebrows and be related in someway to Mr Beelzebub, but he's got a fine team, playing fine football. Urrggghhh
The horror, the horror.
Nicko's Man of the Match
Odd as it may seem Coyne and McDermot were adequate (though a small question mark against Coyne for the 3rd goal). The Town Man of the Match has to be Santos though, at times, he took them on, on his own. As an individual he was a colossus
Seemed to flip after half time and snuffed out the makings of a match when Pouton was dismissed. I just didn't like him, he seemed to lose control of the game, with small inconsistencies, such as allowing McCall to virtually dig Oster up with a two footed full frontal tackle, minutes after Pouton had got a red card. There was a lot of tough tackling going on from both sides, but until Pouton's dismissal, nothing dirty. Oh, you want a number. Will 4.03 do?
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